Startup Blog

How to Improve B2B Website Lead Conversion Rates

Posted Mike Volpe on 3/13/09 10:32 AM

As a B2B marketer looking to generate leads through your website, you need to think about a few of the key factors driving your conversion rates.  If you understand these key factors, you can try to implement ways to improve each of them, and therefore increase your overall conversion rate, driving more leads.

  1. Traffic Quality- If you are selling business software, traffic from MySpace is just not going to convert for you at a high rate.  But, traffic from the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch or CNet might convert really well.  Look at all the sources of traffic to your website and the conversion rates of each source.  Try to drive more traffic like the sources that convert well for you.  Don't waste your time working on sources like the ones that don't convert.
  2. Calls to Action - A landing page with a conversion form should be no more than one click away from every page of your website.  Make sure you have a great call to action on each page of your website.
  3. Landing Page Quality - Once your visitors are directed to a landing page with a conversion form, make sure that page is performing well.  Do some testing and optimization to improve the conversion rate of all of your landing pages.
  4. Industry- Certain industries just experience higher conversion rates.  If you are selling to IT people, they are usually really sensitive to spam and often know a bunch of tricks to avoid giving you their contact info.  Your conversion rate will just be lower than companies in other industries.  There is not much you can do about this (besides change jobs) so don't worry about it.
  5. Brand - As you become more well know, people will trust you more and typically your conversion rate will increase as your brand grows over time.  This is a long term effect, so there is not much you can do about this in the short term so don't worry about it.

Want more info? Read this article about how to draw attention to your calls to action.

Download video for iPod.

Inbound Marketing Book - Reviews of Inbound Marketing and New Rules of Marketing and PR

Posted Mike Volpe on 3/9/09 10:21 AM

The top Inbound Marketing Book is, of course, "Inbound Marketing" by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan.  The book is based off of all of our experience doing inbound marketing at HubSpot.  I highly recommend you spend the $17 to buy it on

How Tracy Porter Fashion Cost Effectively Adds Brand Personality

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/24/09 1:34 PM

Karen Rubin and I have talked about this on HubSpot TV before, but I think this is a cool example of a company adding a lot of personality to a brand and products at a low cost.  In this video the company owner/designer tells you about the shoes you want to buy and how they make her feel when she wears them.  Very cool way to build an emotional connection, just using a short video on the web - at a very low cost.

tracy porter

Now... onto what Tracy Porter is doing wrong...

  1. I can't share the video! It was a real pain in the ass for me to grab a screenshot and link to it, and there was no way to easily embed the video directly in my blog.  There should be.  More people would spread the videos if it were easier.
  2. The videos are not spread throughout the web!  Don't just lock your videos up on your website, put them on as many sites as you can - YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo, Facebook,, etc.  Use a service like Vidmetrix or TubeMogul to cross post automatically.  They should put these videos anyplace they can.

Posting the product videos to YouTube or another service and then embedding those on your own website would solve both of these problems.  Tracy Porter actually has a YouTube channel, but they only have 23 videos and they do not post the product videos from their website on YouTube.  They should.

Have you used video to add personality to you brand?  How?

Video Podcasting While Driving to Albany

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/14/09 3:10 PM

I decided to do a video podcast about preparing for inbound marketing to give yourself a better chance for success while I was driving to Albany, NY to give a presentation to the AMA there.

Summary points:

  • Too many people jump into inbound marketing without the proper preparation
  • Who are your customers?  What is your fundamental value proposition?
  • To answer these questions, talk to and interview your customers - ask them how they would describe your company and product or service
  • Ask your customers where they hang out, how they learn more about their industry, what they read, how much they use discussion forums, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

All of this will help you with 3 things:

  1. Some good seed words for starting your keyword research for SEO purposes
  2. Great topics for content creation (blogging) and ways to find some other blogs to read and comment on
  3. Starting points for where to get involved in your social media activity that will target the highest proportion of people in your market

Download File for iTunes / iPod / iPhone (.m4v)

Marketing Pitfall: US Weekly Magazine Making it Hard to Buy Something

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/13/09 10:08 AM

It is amazing to me how hard people make it to buy things sometimes.  I admire companies that do not need to play games with pricing and discounting and there is just one price per product through all channels.

How complicated do you make it to buy your products?


Me: Hi, I'd like to renew my wife's subscription for her birthday.

US Weekly Magazine: Sure, that will be $67.

Me: Actually, I got something in the mail that says it is $51.

US Weekly Magazine: Do you have the offer code?  I can't give you that deal without the offer code.

Me:  No, the letter is in my recycle bin at home.  Can you tell me what the offer code is and I will repeat it back to you?

US Weekly Magazine: No.

Me:  OK.  I also found the same deal on and this number was in the listing.  I figured it was easier to call so it would just get added onto the current subscription.

US Weekly Magazine:I can't honor online pricing.  There are a lot of websites out there selling unauthorized subscriptions.

Me: is selling your magazine without authorization?  I mean, this 800 number I called was in the

US Weekly Magazine:  I don't know about that Amazon thing, but I can't honor online prices. 

Me:  OK.  What should I do.

US Weekly Magazine: Well, I'll give you her account number.  Then you can go to our website, log in, and then renew online on our website and that will give you the best price.

Me: But you can't honor that price right here?  I have my credit card in my hand... 

US Weekly Magazine: No.  Sorry.

Me:  OK... Fine.  What's the account number and URL I need...?

Why Routines Are Good

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/11/09 11:30 AM

Every Saturday, my wife and I start our day by going to the gym.  I don't workout as often as I should (who does?) but this routine is valuable.  I know what I am doing every Saturday morning, I never make other plans.  The result? My success rate on working out on Saturday is 99% over the last 6 months.

To make inbound marketing work, you also need a routine.  Think about setting a schedule for your self to spend some time each day, and I bet the benefits will pay off a lot over time.

Inbound marketing in 10 hours a week:

  • 15 minutes per day to spend on reviewing analytics and reports 
  • 45 minutes each day to write a blog article
  • 30 minutes each day to read other blogs and news in your industry 
  • 30 minutes each day to converse with people and make new friends in social media

I promise you'll get a lot more out of your inbound marketing routine than Patrick Bateman gets out of his. (The clip is from American Psycho for those of you who do not recognize it.  One of my cult favorites.  Shout out to Mike Miller in case he is reading this.)

Do you have a routine?  Does an inbound marketing routine make sense to you?

Attract Customers Cheaply

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/7/09 1:53 PM

The key to having a successful business is to attract customers cheaply and then quickly monetize those customers at a multiple of what they spent to acquire them.  At least according to David Skok from Matrix Partners (and investor in HubSpot) - that link is to an interview in the Wall Street Journal.

I agree.

Too often startups make their strategy too confusing and complicated.  This is because they don't have the answer yet.  Most really successful businesses have a pretty simple model at the core.  Google, Ebay,  See?

Marketing Comes Before the Product

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/5/09 11:29 AM

cart before horse marketingSeth Godin is a smart dude.  This article talks about how you should start marketing before you have a product.  This is something I have talked about a lot at HubSpot on our blog, in webinars and in interviews.

For startups, you used to spend 1-2 years building a product and then hire a marketing guy or gal.  Now a marketing pro should be part of the founding team.  Build an audience of fans, beta testers, future customers.  No product required.

Start Marketing Before You Have a Product

  • Start blogging before you have a product.
  • Start engaging in social media before you have a product.
  • Start SEO before you have a product.
  • Start building your database and capturing leads before you have a product.
  • There is nothing stopping you, and it makes product launches easy.

HubSpot started marketing before we had finished the product.  Its one of the reasons we got to 1,000 customers so fast.  You should try it too.

PS - If you want to get started, there's a free trial of inbound marketing software at (if you're lucky - it goes up and down as we test some things).

Flickr Photo credit:  

Why Seth Godin is Totally Wrong - No Pity Clicks!!!

Posted Mike Volpe on 10/17/08 10:47 AM

seth godin no pity clicksSeth Godin is a marketing genius, and I normally agree with him on most everything.  I am a giant Seth fanboy, and even have a photo of me with him.  So, don't interpret this as Seth-bashing.  I just think he called this issue wrong.


Seth Godin wrote an article called Ads are the New Online Tip Jar that basically asked blog and website readers to click on ads to support bloggers in what amounts to "Pity Clicks".


This is a short sighted and bad idea that actually does not help anyone.  Here is what would happen if people started to actually go with this "Pity Click" program.


Why Seth Godin's "Pity Clicks" are Bad Idea

  1. Blogs would get a short term boost in revenue from the additional clicks.
  2. Advertisers would see that these useless "pity clicks" did not buy anything or register for anything on their website, making them (the ads and clicks) pretty useless.
  3. Advertisers would see their ROI drop from these ads, causing them to either cancel the ads or negotiate lower prices.
  4. Bloggers would see ad revenue drop because they asked for "pity clicks" on their ads.
  5. We end up back where we started.

A business (like a blog) needs to figure out how to both create value and capture value.  Many blogs create value (for their readers) but have not figured out how to capture it.  The reason why ad revenue on most websites is low is because banner ads don't work Marketers need to use more inbound marketing, and many people are discovering this and using fewer banner ads.

Seth Godin's idea for "Pity Clicks" might be clever, but it is not sustainable in the long term and does not make sense to me.  What do you think?

Slick, Real and Seth

Posted Mike Volpe on 8/18/08 12:30 PM

Seth Godin is very perceptive.

Maybe most marketers should only try to do "slick" stuff if they have a huge budget and staff.  I think most of us should stick to "real" stuff.

slick marketing

Who Will Beat Goolge?

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/2/07 3:00 PM

I am not sure if there is any company out there right now who really has a good shot to unseat Google as the king of search. But, that doesn't mean it's not fun to talk about. Check out this article on the Read/Write Web. At a minimum it is a good summary and categorization of the players out there who have a shot at beating Google, and maybe you'll get lucky and discover the next Google. Some of my thoughts...
  • The article missed a bunch of companies, of course, since it is not possible to name everyone, especially in the Web 2.0 world where things seem to pop up overnight like mushrooms. One notable company (Alexa ranking of ~1900) missed in the vertical search space is ZoomInfo. They are building some nifty stuff and the ability to search on people, rather than documents that mention people is useful since many times different documents are referring to the same person, and you want to find all information related to a single person. And many times this with the same or similar names to others. Just try to find yourself or some business colleagues on ZoomInfo... and then try the same thing on Google. The problem gets worse if you want to find your friend Jane Smith or Dave Jones...
  • Google's strategy in search should not be to be an innovator. Their innovative activity should be focused on things like spreadsheets & documents, Gmail, and other services that could unseat Microsoft. In search, they should just focus on taking the best of what these upstart companies produce and copying it. They have a huge market share in search and a really powerful brand. As long as they do not fall too far behind, they will not lose much ground.

Don't Sell to the Wrong Customers

Posted Mike Volpe on 12/31/06 3:23 PM

I was reading OnStartups, Dharmesh Shah's blog, and thought there were some really good comments about startups needing to find customers that are similar to each other is right on. Too many startups try to hedge their bets and be all things to all people, and end up spending a ton of time creating features and solutions to serve a large diverse group of customers and are really more of a consulting company than a product company.

Focus on a specific market segment, serve that one well, and then grow from there. Certainly, if you are a believer in the Innovator's Dilemma, then you will say that startups rarely begin with the right strategy and need to evolve business models over time, which is also true. However, this does not mean you pursue multiple business models at the same time. It means work hard on one model and one type of customer, and them make small changes over time as you get feedback from the market.

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